If this ain’t the most transparent Hollywood-funded holiday…Following 2018’s smash hit Book Club, about a group of ageing women finding themselves revitalised by reading Fifty Shades of Grey, this unexpected and unwarranted sequel seems to have come about purely to send Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen, and Diane Keaton on holiday to sunny Italy. And you know what? Fine, they deserve it.
The resulting film does have a relaxed and care-free feel to it, like nobody is even trying to hide the fact the film only exists for this reason. Everyone is clearly having a great time, and the four legendary actresses’ genuine friendship shines through. Not once does the film even attempt to do anything to justify its existence, or do anything original or memorable. And I really can’t help but dig that.
Book Club: The Next Chapter is short on story but certainly not on heart or laughs. It’s a surprisingly endearing and heartfelt snapshot of friendship, with four masters elevating the material considerably with their combined charm. It’s formulaic, but it’s hard to not be swept along for the ride with these lifelong pals. And just one glance at the Letterboxd reviews shows that the target audience were well and truly on board – “the crowd was clapping & cheering at this like it was Avengers Endgame I’m not even kidding” and “nearly sold out Mother’s Day crowd went apeshit at every single dick joke Jane Fonda made”.
There’s nothing about Book Club: The Next Chapter that will be remembered even a few months from now, but if you ever find yourself lamenting the fact you have to watch it – worry not, there are far worse ways to spend 100 minutes. It’s actually quite a hoot.